(Note: Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins’ post first appeared yesterday on Green for All.)
America is not used to playing catch-up, not since World War II. We’ve built a massive, unparalleled economy through an always-evolving blend of entrepreneurship, public and private investment, and innovation.
We still lead the rest of the world, but we’ve slowed. Stumbled. Meanwhile our competitors are picking up speed – particularly in key sectors that promise long-term growth.
President Obama is presenting his [third] State of the Union address tonight, at the outset of a year that will culminate with a fiercely contested battle for his position. It may be the President’s last opportunity to establish the agenda that America needs in order to be competitive over the long term – while putting people to work immediately.
It is a moment for boldness – a time at which the President can outline a plan of action that shifts America’s focus to the future,
Two hundred and thirty six years ago, in January 1776, Thomas Paine published Common Sense, the wildly popular pamphlet that made the case for American freedom and helped to spark a revolution.
This year, the Tea Party hopes to turn the 2012 elections into a fight for American freedom. Their first salvo — the electric light bulb. Last month, they threatened to shut down the government unless new energy efficiency standards for light bulbs were delayed. They didn’t delay the standards but they succeeded in delaying their implementation. The final budget deal prohibits the Department of Energy from spending any funds on the new rules.
In 2007, Congress passed The Energy Independence and Security Act that included a provision authored by Republican Congressman Fred Upton giving light bulb manufacturers until 2012 to produce light bulbs that used 25 percent less energy than old-fashioned, energy wasting incandescent bulbs.
Not long after the Los Angeles social upheaval of 1992, Mayor Tom Bradley tapped Warren Christopher, former Secretary of State under Bill Clinton, and a long-time Angeleno, to lead a panel examining the issues surrounding what is still the most costly urban riot in American history. As part of his study, Christopher convened a group of clergy. He wanted to know what our parishioners may have told us about their interactions with officers of the police department that they might not say in public.
Late in the meeting, Christopher asked if we had any perspective on the role of religion in public office. There was a moment of silence, then we said something like this: People expect elected officials to hold some faith-informed values, but they don’t want politicians to impose their religion on everyone else.
This experience comes back to me in the noise and glare of the Republican presidential primaries.
It’s official: Frightwing Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-Santa Clarita) will have the newly redrawn 25th District all to himself, since fellow conservative Elton Gallegly announced January 7 that he will not contest the seat – which swallows up Gallegly’s home in the old 24th District. While perhaps not as big a news item as the retirement of the party’s state Congressional delegation leader Jerry Lewis (R-Redlands), Gallegly’s surrender means McKeon, 73, will inherit the cop suburb of Simi Valley (home also to the Reagan Library) and one of the most entrenched conservative strongholds in Los Angeles County.
Buck McKeon’s fiefdom has always been something of an anomaly. The old configuration of his 25th District was a gerrymander-shaped creature that began at the eastern Ventura County Line and stretched across forest and desert to the Nevada border, then swung up along the state line all the way north to a position almost parallel with Sacramento.
The morning after covering the New Hampshire primary, American Prospect and Washington Post commentator Harold Meyerson was getting over a bad cold, but answered a few questions about whether the conservative electorate was becoming more sympathetic to populist pitches.
Frying Pan News: All of a sudden pro-business presidential candidates have been backpedaling or “clarifying” the red-meat comments that they’ve been throwing to their base – comments deriding Americans who are too lazy to be millionaires, or celebrating the joy of firing people. Are candidates suddenly feeling the average person’s pain?
Harold Meyerson: I think Mitt Romney crossed the line when he said he likes firing people. When Romney says it his background as a venture capitalist comes into play. As an actor he’s precisely the guy central casting would send to play a Wall Street executive.
FPN: So you don’t think the Republican candidates will be playing the populist card?